Dealing with unexpected change

How to act in case of extreme circumstances

When an unexpected event occurs, numerous facets become apparent.

The resilience of the organisation is put to the test. It also becomes clear whether appropriate preparations have been made and whether they have been provided with the right resources. You will learn the most about the leadership, team, and organisational culture in these moments. Unfortunately, these moments often end with negative experiences that sometimes take years to work through.

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

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Almost every organisation believes that it is sufficiently prepared for emergencies. However, it usually becomes very quiet if someone asks about the BCP (Business Continuity Plan) or BCM (Business Continuity Management). This aspect is exactly where a big problem lies. There is not only a theoretically large gap between wish and reality. A lack of prioritisation and budgeting often becomes the crux of the matter, which is ignored until a severe incident leads to an immediate change in behaviour. However, this usually does not last long either. Thus, the organisation is constantly hovering between overzealousness and lethargy. This pattern of conduct must be blamed on the management level.


The external view is indispensable here. In addition to adequate design in terms of resources such as personnel, time, and finances, it is also essential to consider the factor of operational blindness. External institutions, often certified according to official standards, can help achieve a comprehensive good or very good status. This result cannot be achieved by internal means alone.

In the case of extremely drastic experiences, the following always applies: people before profits. A clarification on the factual level does not mean that this is also regarded as settled or adequately dealt with on the interpersonal level. Always consider the interpersonal factor with equal prioritisation. If this is not done, the leadership will be responsible for the following high turnover in the workforce.


Tough times weld together. This truth is not only proven in theory but also practice. Of course, you cannot artificially create these situations and by no means should you intend to do so. However, the crisis also reveals the true nature of leaders, which will leave a lasting mark on the relationship of trust. Professor Tsedal Neeley from Harvard University has already researched this. Thus, a general distinction is made between Cognitive Swift Trust, a relatively superficial trust that is granted quickly but changes just as quickly, and Emotional Trust, a deep trust that can only be built up over a more extended period (more on the types of trust in this week’s podcast; see below for links). In the decisive moments, the so-called Moments of Truth, it is decided how the second trust will develop or whether there will be a possibly even irreversible loss of trust. Please pay special attention to this factor in the case of unexpected changes, as it has a particularly pronounced effect on the team and organisational culture.

Read more about dealing with unexpected change
in this week’s podcast: Apple Podcast / Spotify.

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Niels Brabandt

Niels Brabandt


Niels Brabandt is in business since 1998. Helping managers to become better leaders by mastering the concept of Sustainable Leadership. Based in Spain & London.